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Panama

Fact Sheet
Country Name: Republic of Panama
Capital: Panama City
Nationality: Panamanian
Population: 3,191,319 (July 2006 est.)
Language: The official language is Spanish, many Panamanians speak both Spanish & English
Weather: The average is 27 degrees celicius (80F). Panamanian weather is pleasantly tropical, and uniform throughout the year
Currency: US $. It is 1:1 tied with the Balboa (PAB) since its introduction
Government: Constitutional Democracy
Time Zone: The time is EST (GMT -5) all year long
Religion: There is an absolute freedom of Religion in Panama. Most panamanians are Catholic


About Panama

Panama is a country where the concept of exotic begins with its name, which means "abundance of fish and butterflies". There is much more to Panama than its famous and important Canal. This international crossroad is a great place to live.

Panama has it all: amazing weather, modern urban centres, white beaches, rivers, lakes, crystal clear waters, mountains, jungles, rainforests, diverse culture and cuisine, incredible shopping and significant investment opportunities. The exotic flora and fauna, international trade and the charming cultural mix make Panama an exceptional, elite and fashionable destination, for living, tourism, investment and retirement alike.

Besides the near perfect weather, stable government, cheap real estate, low cost of living, low crime rate, clean air, relaxed pace of living as well as abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation — everything from golf and tennis to river rafting and diving — a modern, advanced infrastructure gives Panama the edge over traditional places like Mexico or Costa Rica. Panama also has excellent telephone, satellite, and international cable services. High-quality medical care and modern hospitals are available in the metropolitan areas, and the cost of prescription drugs is low.


The People

The people of Panama are fun, proud, tolerant and eager to please. They are not only friendly, they are welcoming. Though Spanish is the official language, many in the service industry speak English. As well, English is taught in school.

Panama is an ethnic melting pot and cultural crossroad where civilizations and races have blended to create a charming local culture. Over the last 450 years, different ethnic groups immigrating to the country have created a culture rich in diverse customs. One can find the food and traditions of almost any country. Throughout Panama native-born Americans, Europeans, Chinese, Japanese, Caribbean, Arabs, Jews, Hindus, etc live and work side by side. Additionally, seven indigenous groups still follow the same traditions they have preserved for thousands of years. Among those are the Ngoebe-Buglé villages in Bocas and the 48 Kuna Yala villages on the San Blas Island region.


The Weather

The weather cannot get much better than in Panama. Panama’s beautifully pleasant tropical climate has an average temperature of about 27°C (80°F) with only a few degrees variation between seasons. Overall, Panama has a year round mild and very spring-like climate. The higher elevation mountainous regions have a mild average temperature of about 19°C (66°F).

Panama has essentially two seasons, wet and dry. The rainy season runs from May through November, this is considered Panama’s winter. The dry season, which is considered Panama’s summertime, runs from December through April.

During the dry season it is not common to see any rain at all for several months. During the rainy season, it is typically sunny during the mornings and early afternoons with fairly short intermittent rainfalls.

Panama does not experience destructive hurricanes or earthquakes as do Panama’s Central American neighbours.


Water and Wildlife

Besides a stable, predictable climate, Panama’s geographic location is responsible for its great diversity of life. The country offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy the wonders of nature, and to find the perfect spot to kick back and relax while being soothed by a pleasant trade wind or witness to a dynamic sunset. And everything is within minutes from its metropolitan centres.

Panama is paradise for those who love wildlife and water. Panama has the highest ratio of coastline compared to land area of any Latin American country. Its gorgeous beaches, islands and waterways offer a rich variety of safe and exciting opportunities for swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving, surfing and windsurfing, sea kayaking, deep-sea fishing and river rafting. Some favourite beaches are La Cabaña Beach on Colón Island and Boca del Drago Beach in Bocas del Toro Province. Other beautiful popular beaches are Cermeño, Gorgona, Coronado, Punta Barco, Las Lajas, El Palmar, Río Mar and Santa Catalina beaches in Veraguas Province.

Panama has 14 national parks, over a dozen forest reserves, 10 wildlife refuges, hundreds of islands and miles of protected coral reefs. About 29 percent of Panama’s land area is protected.


EcoSystems

Panama has coasts on two oceans, the Pacific and the Caribbean Sea, and is located between two continents. Panama boasts unique ecosystems nurture unparalleled flora and fauna with natural and environmental riches found nowhere else in the world. More species of birds live in Panama than in all of North America and Canada combined, and migratory birds and turtles stop there as well. In all, Panama is host to almost 1,000 species of birds, 220 mammals and 354 reptiles and amphibians.

On the easternmost side of the Pacific coast, shrimp, other crustaceans and mollusks spend the initial stages of their development in the shelter of Gulf of Panama mangroves. The American alligator and the leatherback turtle, the largest living turtle species, which can grow up to 2 metres (6 ft) in length and weigh over 630 kilograms (1,400 lbs) swim offshore. Also on the Pacific side, thousands of sea turtles lay eggs at the Isla Caña national reserve between August and November.

Diverse marine species and corals inhabit the Atlantic coast as well. An outstanding example is the massive Bocas del Toro archipelago at the entrance to Chiriquí Lagoon on the Caribbean Sea, where many species of marine and terrestrial life, such as sea turtle and manatee, are protected in the clear blue waters, coral reefs and beaches. The archipelago has nine islands, 51 keys and over 200 islets and is a popular place for scuba diving, snorkelling, and ecotourism.